Even though we’ve been writing this blog for close to a year now and have talked about various components of Living System Ministry, I thought it would be helpful to write a clear description of what it’s really all about.
Living System Ministry is a discipline of Christian practice that recognizes the differences between the living systems that God makes and the constructs that people make, offering insights and practical tools to help us align with and effectively engage living social systems.
When we design most any technological innovation (meaning all the things people may construct, including our organizations), we are trying to make our world function the way we want it to – the way we think it ought to work. Aligning with the living system design of creation is very different. This requires discovering how the system itself is designed by God to function naturally, independent of my thoughts about how I think it ought to work.
Actually, we apply this kind of thinking all the time. My physician, for example, tries to help my body operate according to its design as a human organism, but his job is not to make me bionic. The weatherman tries to understand how weather systems work so that he can predict the weather for the weekend, but his job is not to stop a snowstorm because it threatens to interrupt some planned activity. We don’t try to stop earthquakes, but we design buildings that can remain standing should the earth shake. Our approach in all these things is to align our actions to the ways created systems are designed to work, not to attempt to force living systems to change in ways contrary to their natural designs.
While we have no trouble aligning to large living systems in these and other areas of our lives, we tend not to even see them when we are pursuing ministry. To practice Living System Ministry, we start by learning to see the difference between those things we can easily solve and understand and those things which are of a more complex nature which would require different thinking and different tools to address.